From June 8-20, the new Sydney Solstice festival will light up the city and its surrounding suburbs, with a focus on food and entertainment.
Night Over Light, June 8-20
As much Melbourne-ians like to think, they can’t quite call dibs on hidden laneways and small bars — Sydney has its fair share as well, you just haven’t been to all of them yet.
But thanks to a handful of CBD hospitality proprietors, they’ve banded together to spearhead a relatively new initiative that’s turned the 15-plus small bars around York, Clarence and Kent streets near Town Hall into its own precinct — YCK Laneways.
From June 8-20, those laneways will come alive with Night Over Light, 13 nights of events featuring food, drinks, and an eclectic variety of entertainment such as Prince of York’s Drag Queen Bingo on Wednesday nights and $20 past dishes on Tuesdays, or visit Since I Left You (SILY) for music, poetry readings and their famous “The OG” toastie — smoked ham, caramelised onions and gruyere cheese.
“People were originally sceptical (of the toasties) but once everyone’s had a few drinks, they’re going to wants one … then everyone wants 10 more,” Nick White, SILY’s owner, says.
“We’ve just had our 10th birthday and toasties have pretty much been a part of your menu since we started. It’s not all bar snacks either, as more upscale places such as Esteban which normally serves authentic dishes inspired by regional Mexico, will go super-casual with some easy options including quesadillas and loaded.
For a full line-up of more than 70 events, visit ycklaneways.com.au
Bringing life back to Australia’s first railways workshops built in 1887, South Eveleigh is Sydney’s latest dining and lifestyle precinct.
It’s only been open a couple months and already boasts 15 unique eateries including RaRa Chan, the little sibling to Redfern cult-favourite ramen restaurant RaRa Ramen, and Eat Fuh, the fan favourite pho which got its start at Kings Cross Markets.
Also of note is renowned chef and South Eveleigh ambassador Kylie Kwong’s latest restaurant, Lucky Kwong.
“Lucky Kwong for me is about bringing people together, a celebration of everything I love — art, food culture; bringing people together, celebrating community. Beautiful local and sustainable produce,” Kwong says.
“Its simple humble offering, very committed to its core value which is to make a positive contribution to society.
“Lucky Kwong draws immense inspiration from this location (South Eveleigh workshops) which has a long connection with the land both to Indigenous people and as the birthplace of Australia’s national rail network.”
Kwong notes Lucky Kwong will feature a number of her classic dishes as well as some new one, many of which will be featured during the Sydney Solstice festival (June 18 and 19), the precinct first public event.
For full details and participating venues, visit southeveleigh.mirvac.com
ARIA AFTER DARK
With a sweeping view across the water to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and city skyline, the setting alone is worth a visit but add in award-winning chef, Joel Bickford’s elegant and inventive dishes that celebrate local and seasonal produce and you have the makings of an epic meal.
Over four nights during the Sydney Solstice festival, you can get a taste of his creativity as part of the Aria After Dark’s NSW winemaker events.
“We’re working with some really innovative winemakers for Sydney Solstice, so we wanted to complement this in our menu, leaning into new techniques but with the same classic use of best produce that Aria is known for,” Bickford says, noting such morsels as Ben Collison coral trout, quail egg and guanciale, Mooloolaba scallop, celeriac, hazelnut and black truffle, and David Blackmore wagyu, sea urchin and caviar.
“This snack-style approach to dining, paired with unique collaborations and wines by the glass is a preview of the new innovative way in which our guests will be able to enjoy Aria Wine Bar when it launches later this year, so stay tuned.”
— 1 Macquarie St, Sydney; ariasydney.com.au
SUPPER CLUB SERIES AT MARY’S UNDERGROUND
The only thing better than a hug from Nona is a big plate of her home-cooking, but with travel off the books for now, Tony Stansfield, head chef at Fabbrica Pasta Shop, has stepped in with a three-course menu called, appropriately enough, “Dinner at Nonna’s” (Saturday, June 12).
As part of Sydney Solstice, Mary’s Underground, an urban restaurant/live music venue in Circular Quay, will play host to a series of Supper Clubs featuring collaborations between some of Australia’s best chefs and mixologist alongside equally renowned musicians.
“Supper Club is about bringing different industries together as well as for foodies and ‘winos’ that don’t get out that much to get to see these types of collaborations,” Stansfield says.
“Maybe people who’s never really been into to it but are just dying for something to do – so here it as maybe it’ll break the ice and make them go out again.”
And while he’s in the kitchen, Donny Benet will be spinning tunes influenced by the post-disco movement of the 80s but, in keeping with the Italian theme (and Donny’s own Italian heritage), Italo disco as well.
“It’s all quite nostalgic,” Stansfield says, noting much of his inspiration for the meal came from a trip to Italy where he “feasted” on his partner’s mother’s cooking.
“Her mother made really nice food, and a standout dish was an octopus salad. On another night, it was fregola made with clam”, thus the inspiration for the evening’s starter – a seafood salad.
“I just put my twist on it, which is a bit more refined and with Asian nuances. When you see it, it’ll look very Italian but very subtle Asian flavours.”
Pretty sure Nonna will approve. ($99pp, For tickets, visit marysunderground.com).
— 7 Macquarie Place, Circular Quay; marysunderground.com
Foraging through the woods for mushrooms is one thing, but Bitter Phew’s head chef Gabriel Gutnik’s foraging efforts keep him a bit closer to home. Quite literally actually, as much of the ingredients he uses in his dishes are often plucked from bushes and trees in his own backyard.
“In my head I have everywhere mapped out as to what is growing when so I can connect with the season — trees, parks, footpaths, bus stops. Just about anywhere,” Gutnik says.
“I’m always observing what’s around me. Not only do you need to caretake the environment but also to keep an eye on it and understand when to come back.”
While native ingredients are always on the menu at Bitter Phew, you can get a true sense of all the ways in which native ingredients can be used at their Phew-Ture events (Tuesday-Thursday, June 8-10 at 6.30pm).
The nights include a “Wild Food” inspired cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage and grazing board created by Gutnik.
One stunningly gorgeous dish, pine mushrooms skewered with rosemary sticks, is served on top of pine needles laid out on a wood-cutting, then adorned with native lime and rosemary flowers, which he picked the night before so they’d be fresh and crisp.
The cocktails also feature native ingredients as well as locally sourced boutiques spirits — it’s sure to be a wild night. For further details, visit sydneysolstice.com
— 1/137 Oxford St, Darlinghurst; bitterphew.com
THE QUEEN’S FEAST: A LAST SUPPER FOR THE SENSES
Culinary royalty comes together at Town Hall on Sunday, June 13 for The Queen’s Feast: A Last Supper For the Senses — a four-course meal created by four of Sydney’s celebrated female Sydney chefs — George Woodyard (BART Jr.), Anna Polyviou (the punk princess of pastries), Claire Van Vuuren (Bloodwood), and Sarah Tiong (MasterChef Australia 2017 & 2020) along with wines from legendary winemaker Lisa McGuigan.
Kat Dopper, the event’s creative director, says: “You’ll be treated to an amazing feast for your senses which will take you through four chapters of the moon cycle. It’s food, it’s art, and it’s the unexpected. It’s your chance to pull out that fancy number from your cupboard and come together … to celebrate the amazing female-identifying talent across food, art and culture.
“The event will not only feature amazing food and drinks but a whole array of surprise and delight moments (from people of all genders) that will leave you wanting more.”
There’ll be two sittings – “Awakening” (lunch) from 1pm to 4pm, and “Nightshade” (dinner) from 7pm to 10pm. Tickets are $144.84pp and can be purchased before Wednesday, June 9 from moshtix.com.au. For further details, visit sydneysolstice.com.
— Sydney Town Hall, Centennial Hall, 483 George St, Sydney
Originally published as Festival feast: New food and drink events